The President of Sri Lanka,
In your capacity as Head of State, appointing the Commissioner of Elections on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council, this public letter is to bring to your kind attention a not-so-independent statement by the Elections Commissioner, published by Daily Mirror journalist M S M Ayub on 20 March 2018 titled Most Sinhalese happy about recent riots: EC”. This is a highly derogatory statement against one community abusing the protocols of office and demands a retraction and public apology and the Constitutional Council must launch an investigation into this immediately.
There can be 2 explanations for this publication
- That the Daily Mirror & M S M Ayub featuring the story has misconstrued what the Election Commissioner said.
If so then the Editor & M S M Ayub must tender a public apology and carry an end note on electronic publications and next issue to that effect.
- That the Daily Mirror & M S M Ayub featuring the story has reported exactly what the Election Commissioner said.
If so, then the Election Commission has abused his office violating the notion of ‘independent’ associated with the setting up of the Commission and must tender an apology while action must be taken as it reveals his unsuitability to serve in this post.
As per the article by M S M Ayub, the Election Commissioner has
- Claimed that the majority of the Sinhalese ‘seemed happy’ about the recent attacks on Muslim-owned properties and mosques during the recent riots in Ampara & Kandy. In fact, Ayub quotes the Commissioner the claim that a majority of Sinhalese were against the recent attacks on Muslims is wrong”.
- Not stopping there, the Elections Commissioner goes on to say that the majority of Sinhalese were happy to see the Tamils too being attacked in 1983.
The irony is that the statement of the supposed-to-be ‘independent’ Commissioner of Elections was made at a workshop on ethnic harmony on the theme ‘building Bridges’ held at the SLIDA.
So how has the not-so-independent Elections Commissioner contributed to ethnic harmony by his statement? What is the Bridge he has built as a result of taking his brush & claiming that the majority of Sinhalese were happy that Tamils were attacked in 1983 as well as being happy that Muslims were attacked recently?
An individual making irrational statements can be excused but a person holding public office especially in a Commission set up to be ‘independent’ cannot make personal statements in a public forum and more so not statements that completely denigrates an entire community. To claim majority, it must be over half of the Sinhalese population. What is the evidence he has, to come to the conclusion that majority of Sinhalese were happy? Did he personally speak to over 7.5m Sinhalese to make this claim?
Such irresponsible statements has done great damage to the majority Sinhalese who are at the receiving end of much lies, distortions & well-funded smearing campaigns.
Statements as the one made by the election commissioner gets picked up by the world media and is quoted and republished in reports and used as reference. Was this the real objective?
While the damage has been done the onus is on the President’s Office & the Constitutional Council to hold an impartial inquiry and ensure a public apology and retraction is made to the majority Sinhalese for the damage done by irresponsible hate speech.
People in public office need to be gagged on contributing to hate speech & racism far more than individuals who are not taken seriously and their statements never get the public attention that public officials get when they come out and abuse a community in public.
The Election Commissioner has done great harm to the Sinhala Community by this irresponsible statement.
Shenali D Waduge